Lightly Done

Lightly Done July 2021

Hang on to your dreams

Midsummer Day this year was a moment of triumph, Judy Manville who has edited all three of my Greyhound Trilogy and supported and encouraged me every step of the way said that Loneliness is a Killer will be ready for publication within the next two months.  In next month’s blog I shall be able to give you a date.  It has been a long haul but I hope to have achieved at least one of my ambitions, to show that eighty plus is not too late to prove to begin a new career.  Seize every opportunity life has to offer and if you can’t find any then make them!  The next stage is to pass the pages to Judy’s husband Ray who has taken the responsibility of preparing and presenting the finished pages to Amazon for publication. 

My next self-imposed task is recast the purpose of this blog to share anything I find to encourage fellow mature or would be creative writers.  To quote Winston Churchill who claimed “History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it” and we can do the same.  There will be plenty of journalists and historians who will record the big events but who will write up the small details which we as children experienced, the knee high visions that gave colour to our lives?  Only we can do that, the stories that we can tell today will be lost unless we write them down.

Looking around my own circle of older friends  we appear to be a generation of survivors and I have been wondering why?  What is it that makes us different?  Octogenarians are ten a penny and people of over ninety still enjoying active and fulfilling lives are common place. Some of this is undoubtedly due to the NHS and modern medicine but I believe that some of the reason may be that we grew up during  the war and the immediate years that followed.   Billy Bunter the archetypal  comic strip fat boy  disappeared from the scene of children’s’ comics in 1940, there were no overweight children during the war and the years that followed, even bread was rationed for a while immediately after the war.  In my memory the sweet ration was twelve ounces a month and in addition to the items included in the standard weekly ration each person was allowed a number of points which could be used for items such as a tin of golden syrup or sweet biscuits. I remember my mother always bought broken biscuits, that way she could get a few extras.  My aunt who ran the kitchens that supplied the schools in the villages around Lyme Regia was immensely proud of the quality of the meals she created from locally produced food.  All school children had a hot meal every the day.  In addition we all had milk in the morning and either concentrated orange or rose hip syrup to ensure the nation’s children grew up fit and strong. Many families had a few hens or even a pig in the back yard who would be fed any available scraps and would eventually become food for the family.   All  this had to be done quietly without alerting the man from the Min of Ag who might confiscate the family treasure.  There will be some who will accuse me of having rose tinted memories but I have bad memories too such as travelling through Plymouth on a bus after an air raid where every building was flattened.

Other factors contributed to our well-being.  Where today children are driven to school and air quality is heavy with traffic fumes we walked, created go-carts, or rode a treasured bicycle. Childhood asthma was rare. Crops were not sprayed as they are today there were fewer chemicals used on the land, farming methods were simpler than they are today and schools would have special harvesting holidays, I remember a week for potato picking, back breaking under a hot sun but a holiday nonetheless.

If you have memories to share I look forward to hearing from you, and I will do my best to reply within a week.

Lightly Done June 2021

Take every opertunity that comes your way and if there is none then make one!

More than any other Prime Minister of Great Britain Lord Palmerston is better known for his pithy statements, in the past year one has been in the forefront to my mind –

The people have the right to be well governed!

A year ago at the beginning of the pandemic I heard those around me say again and again that we should be sympathetic toward the government, they had never had to face a problem like this before and like a collection of good children we did as we were told, we learnt about face masks, hand washing, social distancing and lockdown. Some had the disease and had no symptoms.  at worst only losing their sense of taste and smell, for others the story was very different.  Directions were issued by the government only to be changed a day later.  Any idea of planned budgeting seemed to be forgotten, any problem could be solved by throwing money at it.  Promises were made without considering whether they could be carried out and elderly hospital patients were thrown back into the community taking the infection with them. On the one hand some public figures say that to talk of tens of thousands dying is exaggeration but others will point out that in this country 127,000 people have died of COVID 19 .  I know of a Care Home in Bristol where patients were discharged from hospital still suffering from the virus, soon all the other residents in the home were infected.  They all died, choking to death. In the first three weeks of the first lock down fourteen women and two children died as a result of domestic abuse. Poor mental health  is strongly associated with poor physical health made worse by isolation from friends and family.  The reality of such stories are denied or covered up. 

Just as we were beginning to hope that the worst was over not only have new versions of the virus sprung up but many people are having to live with Post COVID Syndrome now recognised as ‘long COVID’.  When the initial infection is past it is followed such symptoms as high fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea and extreme fatigue while those on high slope their shoulders blaming each other for the mistakes that were made.

Our towns have changed, shops, businesses and all forms of entertainment and hospitality closed and ‘when she got there the cupboard was bare’ is not just a line from a nursery rhyme but for too many a frightening reality.

A sense of despair is hard to avoid when the threat of another new version of the virus is on the horizon.  but the future is ours.  I was walking down a lane yesterday and noticed a crack below my feet, through it  a small green shoot was reaching up through the hard surface towards the sunshine, some might call it a weed, others would see it as nature taking over.    Given courage and imagination the day will come when the nightmare we have been living through will have become history. Already new small businesses are springing up, new answers creating  new opportunities.

The words of Lord Palmerston still ring true – ‘The people have the right to be well governed.’ Ours is a democracy and the remedy is in our hands.  

We all matter and tomorrow is a new day.

Lightlydone May 2021

It will be good to get back to normal but what is normal?  Life before the first lockdown to shake hands was a matter of friendliness and good manners and social distancing was an unknown, constant hand washing could have been considered a phobia to be treated as a physiological problem and hiding your face behind a mask might indicate criminal intent.  At the beginning of the first lockdown as a member of the much older generation I was approached on the telephone by a local organisation and on the assumption that I would be self -isolating I was asked if I would like to have my shopping done for me.  My home is little more than a hundred yards from a small and very friendly Co-op store so, having established that I was allowed to do my own shopping I declined the offer.  Wearing the mandatory face mask and keeping to the two meters apart now entitled ‘social distancing’ I walked down the road every day to pick up the newspaper and essential food. I was part of the living world.

Lockdown could have been an asset, day after day with no social commitments, days free of interruption.  I should have been able to dream up a new and fascinating plot and written at least one if not two novels of undeniable brilliance but inspiration and drive seemed to have joined hands and gone for their own holiday, even mundane tasks around the house needed an energy that just wasn’t there.  Human beings are social creatures, a knock on the door breaking into a line of creative thought, stopping for a cup of tea with a neighbour who needs to unburden concerns that have become overwhelming or knowing at a point of personal crisis that there is someone nearby or ready on the end of a telephone to listen prevents the onset of loneliness or a dangerous build-up of emotional crisis.  

I have no wish to go back, I look forward to the day when we no longer have to hide our faces behind masks but can see and return smiles and enjoy love and laughter and put out a hand in friendship.

In the coming months I hope to catch up on the ambitions that I failed to realise during this period of lock down and rediscover the creative energy that I had before. Loneliness is a Killer, the third in the Greyhound Trilogy is almost ready to be launched into the world, my ukulele needs to be released from the corner where it has been gathering dust and if anyone is using Scrivener on an iPad I’d love to hear from you  – I’m still struggling.  Life should be an adventure!

Lightly Done April 2021

Welcome to the home of my dreams

THERE is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day; 
And when we are certain of sorrow in store, 
Why do we always arrange for more? 
Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware 
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear 


I came across this warning by Rudyard Kipling before I counted my age in double figures but the pack and follow life of marriage to a man in the Royal Navy can be very lonely. The idea of a pet becoming a friend sounded ridiculous but at the age of eighteen I had a lot to learn. By the time I was nineteen I was sharing my life with a Siamese cat who accompanied me everywhere wrapped around my neck like a scarf.  Whether shopping, travelling on buses and trains or attending all the many social events he was there with me.  On-board drinks or dinner parties were the only exceptions. Through the long lonely nights when the submarine was at sea Shashlik, his name taken from a then popular recipe book ‘Definitely Different’  was my only companion.  Children came on the scene as children do and a series of Siamese joined the team as we moved around the world. After twenty nine I lost count of the number of times we moved house, our life lived up to the common claim among naval families of “pack and follow’. The peripatetic dynamics of our household continues to change until at last we settled down in a home of our own. As the children moved beyond the nursery stage they wanted a bit of independence until there was only one small girl left at home. She needed a companion if she was to go beyond the garden gate without a grown-up escort. Ruby a whippet, collie cross was in need of a home just when our daughter needed her, she was an archetypal sheep dog and treated the entire family as her flock and the youngest member as her personal responsibility.
 
We didn’t go looking for greyhounds, they just walked into our life. It all began in 1971 when I was travelling from York to St Pancras in an overcrowded train. The guard noticed me trudging wearily backwards and forwards as I searched for a seat but the train was crammed and eventually he invited me to share his van.  The other passenger with him was a large and very beautiful greyhound who raised his head to greet me with gentle politeness.  For the rest of the journey I listened to a very angry man describing how greyhounds were regularly dumped in his van to travel across country to make money for their owners.  At the age of five they were considered to be ‘past their sell by date’ for racing and were disposed of by any convenient means. At the time it was common practice for them to be turned lose on a highway, dumped in a pond with a brick attached to a line around their neck or just simply shot.
That day I promised myself that one day I would make a home for a retired greyhound. Pet is such a patronising word that I have struck it out of my dictionary. The greyhounds that have accompanied me through life for over forty years have become companions, part of the family.  Muffin was about a year old when he was found painfully thin and searching for food as a street market was closing and rescued by a dog warden. He has been my shadow for the past fourteen years.

            
 Greyhounds are creatures of speed, grace and agility who for thousands of years have been cherished and bred as hunting dogs in the court of kings. Their portraits are painted on the walls of the pharaohs so we know that they have been part of the lives of humanity for at least four thousand years.  Their mummified remains have been found buried in Egyptian tombs so that they could accompany their masters to the hunting grounds of the after-life.  In Homer’s epic the Odyssey , only the old greyhound Argus who had been patiently waiting for Odysseus since his departure years before, recognises the hero when he returns home.  If you open your home and your heart to a greyhound you will be repaid with love and loyalty overflowing.  

I wrote this Epitaph for Freya who, over forty years ago, was the first greyhound to come into my life.  
 
 Shall I forget –
Forget your silhouette
In the broken shade beneath the towering beech?
Shall I forget your cold wet nose
Your trusting gaze depending on mankind to set you free
I know not where.
 
I loved you and I laid you down
Curling you nose to tail the way you used to lie,
Your joyful speed now a cold stillness under two spits of earth.
I must pick up my burdens and walk on
But, maybe as the evening shadows lengthen I shall see 
Beside my own upon the wayside grass 
Another shadow thin and elegant, no longer old and weary 
Following me home.
  


The Greyhound Trilogy is almost complete and should be published in early summer. Loneliness is a Killer concerns a widow living in Dorset, a widower in Liverpool and a boy neglected by his stepfather who has been kidnapped by a gang of drug dealers. The plot which includes greyhounds who play a vital part, is built around an Internet dating site. This eventually thwarts the inevitable problems and challenging plans of well meaning relations and enables a credible romantic resolution.

Lightly Done March 2021

Human beings are social animals, Lock Downs have been very hard for us all, but for people who live alone it has been especially hard. It was ironic that when the first lock down began I had just begun ‘Loneliness is a Killer,’ the last of my Greyhound Trilogy. In theory lockdown should have enforcied an ideal writer’s life style, long days with out interuptions or welcome time spent with friends but no; when the short permitted walk and essential domestic tasks were complete the emptiness of a locked down day stretched out like an endless desert and I found that creating the first draft and journeying into my other world required maximum self discipline. Thanks to the editorial enouragement of Judy Manville and the patience of my long suffering husband Barry Loneliness is all but ready for Indi-publishing in early summer. Thank goodness we live in a time where we have Face Time, Face Book and telephones to carry us through the loneliness of lockdown

The phone is always on and once lockdown is over the door will always be open for anyone who wants to talk. The kettle is ready on the side of the Aga for tea or coffee and a bottle of wine near at hand. I recieved a timely message this morning ‘Support each other’. Lockdowns have turned us into reclusive moles but there is always time and a welcome for anyone who is lonely.

Last year I saw from my kitchen window a seagull chick fall from the nest on a chimney pot and slither down the roof to the gutter below.  He was followed by his hysterical mother issuing instructions which her chick was too young to follow. He must have been her only chick for she fed and cared for him for a couple of days until he was ready to fledge from his position in the gutter. I saw him once more in the garden of a neighbouring pub, his mother was teaching him how to persuade the customers that they should share their chips with him.  He was an able pupil.  

The Fledgling
They told me that I have to live before I come to die
They told me that I have to fall before I learn to fly

They told me that the path is long and I must learn the way
To live and love and sing life’s song before the end of day

Magellan’s Straits and Hudson’s Bay, I’ve sailed and seen they all
I’ve plumbed the depths and scaled the heights, I’ve heard the bell bird’s call

I’ve sung my way around the world and laughed to hide my tears
As one by one those that I’ve loved are overcome by years.

I’ve lived and loved and run the course, the end is now in sight
I’ve fallen but I’m fully fledged and ready to take flight.
CH 2020

Lightly Done November 2020

Life should be an adventure!

The news is full of threats, doom and gloom. Knife crime in a church in Nice and three people killed, one decapitated. Rising Covid death rates accompanied by more communities going into lockdown, rising unemployment, no income so empty store cupboards and the real threat of children going hungry during the half term holiday. And at last a ray of sunlight. Rashid, a young football player with a real heart and a determination to take action has forced our government to take another look at their plans, so proving that it only takes one young man with imagination and determination to turn the tide. Communities have begun to come together to provide food for children on half term holiday and ‘government’ who are only people who believe they have power have been forced to think again. I still treasure the words of Lord Palmerston ‘The people have the right to be well governed.’

It is easy to fall into a trap of despair like a rabbit I found when I was a teenager, cowering and shivering in long grass having run into a snare. All it could do was to keep still and wait to be found. If it tried to escape the snare tightened round its neck, death and a very painful one, was certain either from the human who had set the snare or from passing dogs. Fortunately that day I was walking without a dog dog. That evening was seventy years ago but the memory is as clear as if it was yesterday. I knelt in the wet grass, slipped my finger between the wire and the furry neck, loosened the snare and having taken it off, buried it in a nearby ditch. For a few moments of disbelief the rabbit remained stillbefore running off to safety. And I, what have I gained from telling my tale of the trapped rabbit? I’ve woken from despair with new ideas to be released from memories into the realm of stories yet to be told.

Tribute to a distilled Spirit

A novel, like an evening with a friend,
Accompanied by tankards of good beer
Allows usto develop themes and share
Love, laughter, jealousy or fear
And contemplate a carefully crafted end.
A glass of wine, a connoiseur's delight
Will be remembered for bouquet and taste
And for the dinner that it graced
Never a drop allowed to go to waste
A story shorted than a summer's night.
But for a poem I would chose
A glass of single malt to be my muse.
CH 2018


Lightly Done October 2020

Reflections on Lockdown October 2020

Everything in my diary cancelled, in theory all day, every day apart from domestic chores from 16th March under lockdown I was free to do as I pleased within my own front door.  I should have been glorying in uninterrupted writing time but for the first few weeks every time I retreated to The Shed and sat down in front of my computer my mind became as dry and unproductive as a desert.  I’ve heard too many stories of problems concerning mental health and depression while we were all locked in.  I have been one of the lucky ones, a hundred yards from our front door is a small store where the first hour of every day is reserved for vulnerable people so every day I can be sure of smiling faces and a taste of local news.  People need people.

I came to creative writing through the Open University but it wasn’t until 2013 that my first novel aimed at the teenage reader was published by Monkey Business, an imprint of Grey House in the Woods thanks to Graeme K. Talboys.  

I have been impressed and encouraged by the generosity of established writers, such as Randy Ingermanson, Anne R. Allen, Joanna Penn, Icy Sedgewick and Gary Rodgers, whose newsletters and blogs light the way ahead for me in this new uncharted creative world. When I began I was already 77 but was encouraged by the knowledge that Mary Wesley didn’t write her first adult novel till she was 71. 

Now in my middle eighties and facing another birthday this month I am far from ready to retire.  I have just completed three novels, two published and one should be out before the end of the year. Although their plots and characters are unrelated they have become a trilogy because greyhounds have walked into each one to take up important roles just as greyhounds have walked into my own life for the past fifty years.  All my novels are written to challenge the expectations imposed by society on older people.  My purpose is to prove that life can and should be an adventure regardless of age.

Hanging on my bedroom wall is a finaly stitched sampler titled Modesty dated 1783 by a girl called Charlotte Thirtle – the last verse has been one of the two driving forces in my life –

Quickly lay hold of time while in your power

Be careful well to husband every hour.

Despair of nothing which you would attain:

Unwearied diligence your point will gain.


Lightly Done August 2020

Lock down should have been a perfect opportunity for writing but my creative urge switched off only to awaken when we were released into the new normal. The third of The Greyhound Trilogy should be complete before the end of the year and the second ‘Dragonfly’ will be published before the end of August. No day is long enough to allow for all I need to write! I didn’t go looking for greyhounds, they just walked into my life. It all began in 1971 when I was traveling from York to St Pancras on an over-crowded train. The Guard noticed me trudging wearily backwards and forwards past his van as I searched for a seat. The train was crammed and the Guard eventually invited me to share his van.  The other passenger with him was a large and very beautiful golden greyhound who raised his head to greet me with gentle politeness.  For the rest of the journey I listened to a very angry man describing how greyhounds were regularly dumped in his van  to travel across the country and make money for their owners. At the age of five, they were considered ‘past their sell by date’ and many disposed of by any convenient means. It has been common practice for them to be  turned loose on a highway, dumped in a pond with a brick tied around their neck or just simply shot.  That day I promised myself that one day I would make a home for a retired greyhound.  Since then a series of greyhounds have come through our front door and made their homes with us, each one has become more than a family pet, every one has become a close friend and part of our lives.  I completed my first novel Phoenix House in 2006 more or less in control of the plot although the characters often made decisions for me, telling me how the story should develop. As I began to plan the next three novels, Willoughby’s Will, Dragonfly, and Loneliness is a Killer,  uninvited greyhounds began to quietly walk into my imagination and into the plots and The Greyhound Trilogy became a reality. These are not books about greyhounds, they are books in which greyhounds play a part just as they do in my daily life. I hope you enjoy their company as much as I do. This morning the postman delivered a box filled with copies of Willoughby’s Will, the first volume of The Greyhound Trilogy. Dragonfly is with my editor Judy Manville, and Loneliness is a Killer is now at the planning stage on my desk. No other canine is as closely associated with speed, grace and agility. For thousands of years they have been cherished and bred as hunting dogs and loyal companions in the courts of kings, their portraits are painted on the walls of the pharaohs so we know for certain that they have been part of the lives of humanity for at least four thousand years. Their mummified remains have been found buried in Egyptian tombs so that they could accompany their masters to the hunting grounds in the after life. In Homer’s epic the Odyssey only the old greyhound Argus who has been patiently waiting for Odysseus since his departure many years before, and recognises the hero when he returns home. If you open your home and your heart to them in return they will pay you with love and loyalty overflowing.

Lightly Done – November 2019

The Greyhound Trilogy

I didn’t go looking for greyhounds, they just walked into my life. It all began in 1971 when I was traveling from York to St Pancras on an over-crowded train. The Guard noticed me trudging wearily backwards and forwards past his van as I searched for a seat. The train was crammed and the Guard eventually invited me to share his van.  The other passenger with him was a large and very beautiful golden greyhound who raised his head to greet me with gentle politeness.  For the rest of the journey I listened to a very angry man describing how greyhounds were regularly dumped in his van  to travel across the country and make money for their owners. At the age of five, they were considered ‘past their sell by date’ and many disposed of by any convenient means. It has been common practice for them to be  turned loose on a highway, dumped in a pond with a brick tied around their neck or just simply shot.  That day I promised myself that one day I would make a home for a retired greyhound.  Since then a series of greyhounds have come through our front door and made their homes with us, each one has become more than a family pet, every one has become a close friend and part of our lives.  I completed my first novel Phoenix House in 2006 more or less in control of the plot although the characters often made decisions for me, telling me how the story should develop. As I began to plan the next three novels, Willoughby’s Will, Dragonfly, and Loneliness is a Killer,  uninvited greyhounds began to quietly walk into my imagination and into the plots and The Greyhound Trilogy became a reality. These are not books about greyhounds, they are books in which greyhounds play a part just as they do in my daily life. I hope you enjoy their company as much as I do. This morning the postman delivered a box filled with copies of Willoughby’s Will, the first volume of The Greyhound Trilogy. Dragonfly is with my editor Judy Manville, and Loneliness is a Killer is now at the planning stage on my desk. No other canine is as closely associated with speed, grace and agility. For thousands of years they have been cherished and bred as hunting dogs and loyal companions in the courts of kings, their portraits are painted on the walls of the pharaohs so we know for certain that they have been part of the lives of humanity for at least four thousand years. Their mummified remains have been found buried in Egyptian tombs so that they could accompany their masters to the hunting grounds in the after life. In Homer’s epic the Odyssey only the old greyhound Argus who has been patiently waiting for Odysseus since his departure many years before, and recognises the hero when he returns home. If you open your home and your heart to them in return they will pay you with love and loyalty overflowing.

Lightly Done – September 2019 – The Importance of Recollection by Tom Hayhoe


BBC Radio 4 marked the August bank holiday by filling its schedule with 11 episodes of Proust’s A la Recherche du Temps Perdu / In search of Lost Time.  The idea of “lost” or “forgotten” time is sad and should be unnecessary. There is value in capture and recording the essence of what becomes memory before it becomes remote and can no longer be recalled.  It is of value for those who have lived through those times, and it also of value for those with whom it can be shared.  We are the sum of our memories, whatever of our memories that we can share with others lives on beyond us.  What we know of the past, particularly captured in what those who have gone before us have set down, helps make sense of the present.

That’s enough of these weighty thoughts!  I relish having heard my father’s accounts of naval service in the Mediterranean as a midshipman just after the end of the Second World War, including a visit in the training cruiser into the Black Sea and his accompanying a young Russian officer on what was probably a completely illicit trip in a launch around the Soviet fleet moored in Sebastapol.  I recall his accounts of a contrasting time in the depths of the Cold War, commanding a submarine spying on Soviet fleet movements, anxious that at any moment that they might have to come the surface in a hurry if they sailed into one of the pockets of nearly fresh water in the Baltic that couldn’t support a submerged submarine.   And then there are my own direct memories of my father’s submarine service: the distinctive smell of diesel and sweat in his kit bag on returning from sea; visits as a small boy to the wardroom of his submarine and those of other submarines visiting Portland while I was growing up; and finally, almost certainly as illicitly as his trip round Sebastopol harbour, being taken on an exercise on the submarine he commanded, including looking out through the periscope while the submarine was under water, and a torpedo being fired.

I regret having never sustained keeping a diary, although I did try a couple of times.  I also regret not having been more consistent about capturing experiences on camera.  However, I doubt whether the current appetite for the selfie really addresses the purpose of recollection either, since it feels narcissistic and I fear that so much is about pretending to be happy, impressing a network of friends and acquaintances on social media and seeing “fifteen minutes of fame” in an age that values faux celebrity.  I sometimes tell myself, and have on occasioned counselled my daughter, to “bottle” the experience (in the sense of preserving in a bottle).  But this on its own is not enough.  You may need something to prompt the recall of what you have “bottled”, and this is where the diary entry or the photograph may come in. My memories of a magical trip, three days hiking unsupported through the backcountry of Yosemite National Park in California, with my daughter when she was sixteen, are supported by a handful of photographs that bring back the atmosphere, the incidents along the way, and her excitement at what felt like, literally, being on the top of the world as we looked out across the Sierra Nevada, and her apprehension beforehand at the prospect of camping in an environment we shared with black bears that might steal our food.

Sometimes other triggers are sufficient to help us recall the past.  I experienced something akin to Proust’s smell of the madeleines almost twenty years ago, albeit in reverse.  I was planning a tour of New Zealand, where my family lived briefly in the early 1960s.  As I started to plot our route, memories started flooding back of places that I had visited as a six year old.  Most spookily, as the geysers of Rotorua found their way into the itinerary, I was spontaneously overwhelmed by the distinctive sulphurous odour that hangs over the town, with the memory triggering a sensory response that felt completely real.  Buildings and places can do it for me too.  Hearing music can also transport me back to moments in the past, and how I felt at the time.  Late summer, and the annual broadcast of the last test match of the summer from Oval (incidentally, I am shocked that next summer’s test matches will open rather than conclude with the Oval test) transport me back to the last days of the school holidays in the summer of 1968, an eventful August during which the radio waves were also full of news of the invasion of Czechoslovakia. 

Anyway, it all adds up to the importance of not losing our own past, and also the pasts of others. There is purpose in recording material to trigger memory, and it is fundamentally enriching and essential to fulfilling the human condition.  As TS Eliot wrote in East Coker, itself a wonderful evocation of atmosphere that can still be recognised almost eighty years on from when it was written (go to the poem to see how talks about country lane in the evening, or what happens in an Underground train if it stops between stations):

Home is where one starts from. As we grow older

The world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated

Of dead and living. Not the intense moment 

Isolated, with no before and after,

But a lifetime burning in every moment

And not the lifetime of one man only

But of old stones that cannot be deciphered.

There is a time for the evening under starlight,

A time for the evening under lamplight

(The evening with the photograph album).